Strange Delight brings the ‘oyster disco’ party to Fort Greene 

When we first heard about Strange Delight in 2023, it was being billed as an “oyster disco.” Which: say no more! Instantly sold!

The team — Anoop Pillarisetti, Ham El-Waylly, and Michael Tuiach — has since dropped the “disco” part of tag for their New Orleans-style seafood restaurant that finally opened last weekend on Lafayette. Pillarisetti tells me they feared NYC had been disco-ed out — but there are still plenty of oysters to be sucked down here, as well as one of the best seafood sandwiches available anywhere in town. And as Pillarisetti says, the name Strange Delight itself “captures the energy of eating oysters. And excessive consumption. And fun.” All of which you will almost certainly indulge in here.

Strage Delight (Photo by Scott Lynch)

Backing up a bit, the seed for Strange Delight was planted way back in 2018, when Pillarisetti and Tuiach met at Coachella, at a Shake Shack activation, of all places. “It was a traumatic and tense experience,” said Pillarisetti, “and a friendship was forged.” Pillarisetti grew up in Alexandria, Louisiana, about three hours from New Orleans, and right from the start they knew they wanted to do something that captured the spirit, and the flavors, of the Big Easy.

The dream came closer to reality when they met chef El-Waylly, who was raised in Qatar (which, coincidently, also has rich oyster culture: Before natural gas was discovered, pearl-diving was the country’s “main source of income,” as he put it). Among his other credentials, El-Waylly has worked at Momofuku’s delivery-service Ando. After signing the lease last summer on this space in Fort Greene, “the three of us went to New Orleans together and ate a crazy amount of food in four days in the middle of July,” says Pillarisetti. “Chugging water, looking for salad, crushing oysters.”

Oysters by skylight (Photo by Scott Lynch)

Strange Delight has only a single type of oyster on the menu — peeko oysters from Peter Stein’s farm on Little Peconic Bay — but it comes in three sizes: large (for frying), medium (for broiling) and small (for eating raw). I tried three versions of the charbroiled bivalves, one with smoked garlic butter, parmesan and breadcrumbs, a shout out to Felix’s in NoLa; one that was red from tomato and Calabrian chilis, via Randozza’s in Sheepshead Bay; and one that bore the Rockefeller name and arrived green with spinach and herbs, inspired by Galatoire’s on Bourbon Street. All of these were too bitter, and oddly astringent, for my taste. Next time I’ll spend the $45 these nine oysters set me back on a raw seafood tower for one, which looked bright and refreshing.

The best thing at Strange Delight, and one the best things I’ve eaten this year, is the fried shrimp loaf, a beautiful, messy beast of a sandwich made with milk bread and stuffed with snappy, encrusted crustaceans, a slathering of Duke’s, and enough spicy giardiniera to get your attention. I’m betting that the fried oyster loaf, loaded with pickles, is equally good.

Fried shrimp loaf, $25 (Photo by Scott Lynch)

Another good dish here is El-Waylly’s hush puppies, which are large, surprisingly light and wonderfully sweet, especially when you smear on the Steen’s butter, which is akin to molasses. A basket of these, plus a sandwich and a drink or three, is an ideal summer supper.

Hush puppies with Steen’s butter, $12

There are a few fish entrees, like the stuffed whole snapper for $90 and an almost-too-rich blackened swordfish belly with creole mustard cream. You will want to split this latter dish, which makes the $30 tag feel like a bargain. Other possibilities at Strange Delight include a crab dip, a shrimp remoulade and a plate of head-on BBQ shrimp.

Blackened swordfish belly, $30 (Photo by Scott Lynch)

The dining room in back looks fantastic — the skylight really helps — and the bar up front will almost certainly be bustling all summer long. They’re still technically in soft open mode here, and the wine list and the cocktail menu are a work in progress, but rest assured there will be ample amounts of good booze being poured.

“We get here between 9 and 10 each morning and up until 4:59 it’s very stressful,” says Pillarisetti, who’s lived in Fort Greene for almost 15 years now. “And then people come in, the kitchen is buzzing, and all of sudden it’s fun again. It’s great to have that validation. It’s really nice to feel the energy of the room.”

Strange Delight is located at 63 Lafayette Avenue, between Fulton Street and South Elliott Place. Operating hours are evolving, but right now it opens for dinner at 5 on Wednesday through Sunday.     

The post Strange Delight brings the ‘oyster disco’ party to Fort Greene  appeared first on Brooklyn Magazine.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button